New Delhi, Jul 7 (UNI) Prime Minister Narendra Modi made some major changes in his Council of Ministers on Wednesday, taking in more than 30 fresh faces, while dropping 12 names, including bigwigs like Prakash Javadekar, Harsh Vardhan and Ravi Shankar Prasad.
President Ram Nath Kovind led 43 Ministers take the oath of secrecy, including 15 of Cabinet rank and 28 as Ministers of State at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
However, the crucial four portfolios of Home, Defence, Finance and External Affairs were left untouched, with Amit Shah, Rajnath Singh, Nirmala Sitharaman and S Jaishankar continuing their work unabated.
Jyotiraditya Scindia, who switched sides from Congress to BJP in March last year and made way for the saffron party to retain power in Madhya Pradesh, got reward in the form of Civil Aviation with Cabinet rank, a portfolio which his late father Madhav Rao Scindia once held in Congress government.
Mansukh Mandaviya took over from Dr Harsh Vardhan as the new Union Health Minister, while Ravi Shankar Prasad was replaced by Ashwini Vaishnav as the Minister of Information and Technology and Prakash Javadekar as Information and Broadcasting Minister.
Mr Modi gave the recently-announced Ministry of Cooperation as an additional charge to Home Minister Amit Shah, while keeping the Ministry of Science and Technology with himself. The announcement of the new Ministry was made on Tuesday, with the aim of ‘Sahkar se Samriddhi’ (prosperity through cooperatives).
Piyush Goyal was made the Textile Minister, while his previous Ministry of Railways went to Ashwini Vaishnav. Mr Goyal was also entrusted with the charge of Industries and Commerce Ministry, and the Ministry of IT and Communication.
The first-ever Cabinet reshuffle by Mr Modi after taking over as Prime Minister for the second term in May 2019, witnessed dropping of heavyweights like Ramesh Pokhriyal, Santosh Gangwar and Dr Harsh Vardhan.
Sarbanand Sonowal was duly rewarded for sacrificing the post of Assam Chief Minister, getting the Ministry for AYUSH, as well as the Ministry for Ports, Shipping and Waterways, while the estranged uncle of Lok Jan Shakti leader Chirag Paswan, Pashupati Kumar Paras, became the new Minister of Food Processing Industries.
Mr Modi elevated RK Singh (Ministry of Power), Kiren Rijiju (Ministry of Law and Ministry of Culture), Mansukh Mandaviya (Ministry of Health, Ministry of Chemical and Fertilisers), Parshottam Rupala (Ministry of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries) and G Kishan Reddy (Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region) to the Cabinet rank.
The Prime Minister gave due weightage to poll-bound states with one-fifth of new Ministers coming from Uttar Pradesh, three from Gujarat and one from Manipur. Moreover, Hardeep Singh Puri (Ministry of Petroleum, Ministry of Urban Development) and Anurag Thakur (Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs), representing Punjab and Himachal, were promoted to the Cabinet.
He further took care of BJP’s allies by giving one berth each to JD(U), LJP and Apna Dal. Anupriya Patel was given the charge of Commerce and Industries, while RCP Singh became the Steel Minister. From Uttarakhand, Ajay Bhatt replaced Ramesh Pokhriyal in the Cabinet.
The Modi government also brought former Maharashtra Chief Minister Narayan Rane, who was earlier associated with Shiv Sena and Congress, as the Minister for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, taking over from Nitin Gadkari.
The Cabinet reshuffle, which was long due, took place after Mr Modi held a high-level meeting at his official residence with Union Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP national president JP Nadda.
Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Thawarchand Gehlot was on Tuesday made the Governor of Karnataka on Tuesday, paving way for Dalit leader Virendra Kumar Khatik, who was elevated to the Cabinet rank.
Among others, Giriraj Singh became the Rural Development Minister, while Bhupendra Yadav was given the charge of the Ministry of Environment and the Labour Ministry. Dharmendra Pradhan became the new Education Minister and the Minister for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, while Pralhad Joshi got the Parliamentary Affairs Ministry, Ministry of Coal, Ministry of Mines. Smriti Irani retained her Ministry of Women and Child Development
Of the 81 slots in the Council of Ministers, 79 have now been filled by the National Democratic Alliance government at the Centre. The previous reshuffle was conducted in 2017, when Nirmala Sitharaman was made the Defence Minister.